Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Coal Valley, Tasmania)
14%, Cork, $120
Domaine A is something of an enigma in the world of Australian wine.
Run by Peter Althaus, it remains one of the barest handful of Tasmanian vineyards that can successfully ripen Bordeaux varieties, and does so with such aplomb that you begin to question why there isn’t more ‘down there’. His fumé/white Bordeaux style Sauvignon – Lady A – is easily the most ageworthy in the country too, not typically hitting its peak until at least 5 years after vintage. It is a Bordeaux variety focused winery, in a region dedicated to Burgundian grapes.
Domaine A, according to traditional thinking, just shouldn’t work (and in some minds it doesn’t). Yet wines like this Cabernet prove that wrong…
Whilst I’ve enjoyed a few bottles of Domaine A wines recently (including a bottle of Stoney Vineyards 06 Cab last week and the 05 version of this wine a month or so back), I’ve not had the good fortune to chat with Peter all that much before. Sure, he has poured me a taste at trade tastings over the years, but never before have I had an audience with the man himself. Until today.
To be honest, Peter was much like I expected him to be (and much like the wines for that matter), with a quite reserved and thoughtful demeanour, his thoughts delivered with a modesty of words. Very Swiss, if we want to broadly generalise over nationalities.
What I didn’t expect was the sense of humour and candour. Here I was, typically unshaven, in my jeans and t shirt, making jokes and stirring the pot. I didn’t expect him to laugh at my jokes. I didn’t expect much smiling at all. Nor did I expect that he might come out and admit that he picked the 2011 Pinot Noir a little too late. Precise, reserved winemakers don’t often admit such things…
As for this wine, Peter believes it to be closest to the legendary 2000 vintage – and I’m not going to disagree. It has a certain precision, vitality and unquestioned length, all contained in a perfect package, that signals a wine of very high quality. So perfect is that shape and form, and so plainly refreshing a wine it is, I’d have no hesitation in calling this Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignon.
What I most like is that Cabernet varietal character – sappy, leafy, unashamedly not all about simple fruit. Heck, there is even mint in there too (the horror. The horror!). That nose is beguiling actually, a perfectly expressive, leafy Cabernet-errific nose. I could smell it all day.
Unsurprisingly, this is a mid weight wine too. Spicy and detailed, it is driven by cedary, willowy savouriness, the blackcurranty fruit characters complexed by long barrel ageing which gives texture
and cocoa bitter sweetness and an overlay of roast lamb and rosemary. The real highlight though is the finish – those long, almost delicate tannins and high acidity mark this as a wine of some perfection, the tannins silently encroaching around you like ninjas in a dark alley. If I was Robert Parker I’d be talking about how this lingers for minutes, for it does. Minutes. Wow.
Suffice to say that I like this wine. I like it perhaps more than the 05 I tried recently and I like it so much that I sat there congratulating Peter on the wine. Grumpy wine scribes just don’t do that. But a wine like this deserves the praise.
Stunning stuff. Get some.
Score: 19/20 96/100
Would I buy it? An unblinking yes.